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Wuyuan, a Picturesque Countryside
 

Wuyuan, on the boundary of three provinces in Jiangxi's northeastern corner, has a magnificent landscape dotted with strange caves, deep secluded rocks and numerous historic sites. It has been described by some overseas photographers as the "most beautiful of Chinese villages.''  See: Gallery of Wuyuan County

Wuyuan County is home to some of the best-preserved ancient architecture in China. Each of the numerous ancient buildings has a distinctive shape and structure. They emerge from among the emerald green mountains, clear rivers, green trees and the crisscrossing paths between the fields.

Wuyuan's structures were built in 740 during the Tang Dynasty, its remoteness and inconvenient transportation protecting its villages' beauty from too many visitors. Thus the idyllic scene remained unsullied ... pure, clean brooks, seemingly delicate wooden buildings, unique bridges and, most precious of all, the tranquil lifestyle enjoyed by local people.

Virtually every village has something special to offer, often some tiny but unique feature that can stop you in your tracks and positively beg to be photographed. So was it in Wuyuan, our no-rush itinerary allowing for a visit to one village each day. We stayed over at each, and headed for the next on the list each morning.

Yancun Village
Yancun is a very small village, easily traversed by foot in no more than 10 minutes. Fields surround the village, as peaceful and comfortable a spot as one could find anywhere. Every residential building is a masterpiece of architectural wisdom and wooden sculpting. The buildings here have up to three floors with, amazingly, between 16 and 24 rooms. Old carvings are everywhere, each with an auspicious meaning. In some houses, elderly locals can tell you of their building's history, including how, when and why it was erected.

The powerful tea merchants in Wuyuan (formerly a part of Huizhou, nowadays Huangshan City) built enormous houses after they had made their fortune. Each house's gate is built in the shape of the Chinese character meaning "business" while every home is encircled by high walls. Rainwater, regarded by local people as fortune and wetitleh, flows into the main courtyard through a hidden tunnel, in effect meaning that "water from four directions return to one's home".

Sixi Village
Just 500 meters from Yancun, Sixi is a picture-postcard village, a "real" village for ordinary peasants. Except for several huge courtyards and buildings constructed by rich men long ago, most structures are simpler in design than counterparts in nearby Yancun.

The village of Sixi has been home to the Yu clan for generations. Its distinct Anhui architectures house many fine carvings and other ancient trinkets. The most impressive house in the village is the Jingxu (Respecting Order) Hall, the grand abode of an esteemed and wetitlehy family. The fourth generation of that family still resides there.The locals carry out their daily activities amid this ancient setting. Some work on dough, others are busy washing clothes, while the elderly relax with a cigarette and enjoy their favorite TV shows.

Likeng Villages
Wuyuan has two villages named Likeng, but their names in written Chinese are different. Local people call the larger one "Big Likeng", the other "Small Likeng". The former is marked by several imposing houses built by ministers of the Qing Dynasty, which ended in 1911. This larger village was famous as a birthplace of various ministers, one example being the Yu family which had three who ended up in charge of Qing court engineering, personnel and ceremonies.

With hills surrounded, you can see beautiful scenery out of the Likeng Village and sight fluttering flags along the old small street. All the houses are built in Ming and Qing style and listed at two sides of the brook, with white wall and black tiles; In the village the streets, alleys and streams are linking up; Black plank road crisscrossed and built into a network.

Likeng, the ancient village in which lives by the Li Family, about 12 kilometers apart from Wuyuan County. Li's Family and its later generations have paid more attention to the education and got prosperous in the old time, once come many officials, writers and merchants, such as Song Zhiqing etc., totally about one hundred people.

See: Tour of Discovering China's Living Heritage

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